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November Wrap-up

Busy November is over and many of us participated in several challenges this month. Nonfiction November, Novellas in November and German Literary Month. All three interesting challenges. I did my best to read for each of them, but it was difficult. Furthermore, I have been busy catching up with businesses at home, after being away for three months. Well, well, I should not complain, all is happy doings.


Time for a Wrap-up which this month relates to the three challenges.


Nonfiction November


I seem to have 'snowed in' on Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, and it seems to continue. I have several books about this time, and the following era of the Byzantine Empire on my TBR shelves. My ambition is to read them all in the first half of 2024. After having visited Greece and its ancient sites in September and October, I feel that I want to know more about this time, and the influence they had on the Roman Empire.


Kampen om Romarriket (The Fight for the Roman Empire) by Eva Queckfeldt, a Swedish historian. She covers the tumultuous times during the years 100 - 20 B.C. It is exciting, and we meet some of the most famous people of this era.


She has also written a book about women in the Roman Empire, with the sub title Power, Murder and Motherhood. Romarrikets kvinnor by Evas Queckfeldt. Women did not have a lot to say, but there were some who stood out and tried their best.


Homerisk hemkomst (Homeric Homecoming, my trans.) by Sven Delblanc. In two essays, the author takes a look at the Iliad and the Odyssey. Interpreting the Iliad in the light of research through times. He is not overly impressed by the research, which he thinks is doomed to age. At the back cover Delblanc gives the following advice:

  • A good piece of advice for the reader: give up on all Homeric research.

  • First, read a simple tutorial in Greek mythology.

  • Then read the two works of poetry at a slightly slower pace than today's simpler novels.

  • You will soon re-read them.

  • And re-read them and re-read them, with ever-growing benefit and pleasure.

Might be the way to go about these two classic epics.


De kom, de såg, de segrade (Veni, vidi, vici in third person plural) by Daniel Hermansson. A history teacher, with a history pod finally sat down to write a book about his favourite era. The people referred to are Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus and Julius Caesar. They are considered the best military strategist in history. Nobody came close to such military genius until Napoleon turned up in the 18th century. Interesting book, not overwhelming with battle description, but mixed up with the political situation at the time.


Going back to the Hellenic time and Alexander the Great. I listened to Philip Freeman's book with the same name. An interesting story of Alexander from beginning to end. How he grew up, taking control of Macedonia after his father's murder, and his quest to conquer the east. A remarkable man who showed good and bad sides to the people around him. One wonders what drove hime, and how he managed to inspire the people around him. The soldiers were away fighting for 10 years, under very hard conditions. An excellent odyssey over his life.


Two poetry books at the end. I don't know if they can be regarded as nonfiction, but I put them here. Still in the Roman times with the wonderful poems of Catullus. They are a description of life, and love, at the time. Sometimes quite chocking even for our times. His love poems are dedicated to his muse, Lesbia, supposed to be Clodia Metelli, married to Q. Metellus Celer. This beautiful poem is one of many dedicated to her.


For those of you who have seen The Outlander might recognise a few lines in the middle.


Finally I also read a book of 100 poems from around the world, and times, that has been translated into Swedish. All the famous poets are represented here, and a few I have never heard about.


Novellas in November


I read three novellas for this challenge:


Galatea by Madeline Miller

More a short story, but I mention it anyway. It concerns the myth of Galatea and Pygmalion. A marble sculptor has received a gift from a goddess. His masterpiece, a beautiful woman, has been given life. The sculptor expects her to please him, but she has a mid of her own.


Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

My first read by Wharton and it is a good one. A wonderfully, sad story of Ethan Frome, and his harsh life, both work and private wise. When he falls in love with their inmate, a cousin of his wife, life takes a more dire turn. Beautifully written and the characters go directly to your heart.


Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith

Isabel is a thrift-store shopper looking for memories of things past. She works with damaged books in a library, and she holds an affection for a colleague, a former soldier who keeps to himself. After a few chance meetings at work they go out together. Both of them have memories, good and bad. As Isabel listens to stories around her, she goes back in her mind to remember her own story. A wonderfully written account of childhood and family memories, and how memories form people and their relationships.


German Literature Month

Unfortunately, I did not have so much time to read books for this challenge. I only read Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke received letters from an aspiring poet who wrote him to ask his advice. Rilke's letters are not only trying to advise him, be he talks about life and what affects us. Ten letters, all very interesting. I am still reading The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig. His look on what life was and what it has turned into, nearing the second world war.


4 Comments


Guest
Dec 05, 2023

Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith is going straight onto my tbr--thanks

Lisa @ Hopewellslibraryoflife.wordpress.com


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thecontentreader
thecontentreader
Dec 10, 2023
Replying to

You're welcome, Lisa. I am glad I could inspire you. It is really av very good novella.

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Debbie Nance
Debbie Nance
Dec 05, 2023

I understand becoming fixed on a particular subject, and I can especially understand your fascination with that time period.

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thecontentreader
thecontentreader
Dec 10, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Debbie. It is quite nice to read a lot about a certain subject. The more you read, the more you realise that something has stuck. If you just read one book on a nonfiction subject, at least I tend to forget rather quickly. I am thinking, and hoping, that the knowledge will last for a while.

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